A nor’easter is brewing along the mid-Atlantic that is reportedly carrying with it freezing rain, snow and high winds. While forecasters say that the weather system seems to be weakening in the Atlantic Ocean, a new Winter Storm Athena could potentially cause flooding and power outages in areas already affected by Sandy.
According to reports, Athena is far smaller than Sandy, but could appear just as powerful to low-lying areas in New Jersey and southern New York because Sandy destroyed many sand dunes and other natural barriers, as well as man-made sea walls and jetties, that normally limit damage from high storm surges.
"We don't know what to expect for the flooding situation as the shorelines have been changed," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told reporters in a recent press conference. "For many of them, the dunes are gone. So moderate flooding under normal conditions become major in these conditions."
Officials have already said that Athena could cause a tidal surge of 2 to 41/2 feet when it peaks Wednesday night. The heightened surge is said to be enough to cause fresh flooding.
The National Weather Service said late Tuesday that the storm was moving farther offshore, lessening its likely impact, but "will definitely be a heavy rain and gusty wind producer while churning up the seas."
As a result areas in New Jersey are not taking any chances. Brick Township in the Garden State issued a mandatory evacuation, ordering residents along its waterfront to leave for shelters and higher ground.
Other parts of the town were strongly encouraged to seek shelter. About 30% of Brick Township is still without electricity from Sandy, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Moderate flooding under normal conditions becomes major flooding under other conditions," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters.
In addition, airlines canceled at least 241 flights scheduled for Wednesday, mostly in and out of Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and La Guardia and John F. Kennedy International airports in New York.
Christie said utility crews working to restore power would be slowed by the storm because they couldn't operate some equipment in winds greater than 40 mph.
While New York City did not order residents to evacuate, officials planned to close parks, playgrounds and beaches for 24 hours at noon Wednesday to protect people from falling trees and high surf.
"We could have some snow on the ground and certainly snow on the trees," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. "That makes the trees that already have their bases flooded more likely to fall over."
An investigation is also under way in New York in reference to alleged price gouging after receiving hundreds of complaints from consumers who said they were forced to pay exorbitant amounts for gasoline, food, generators, batteries, hotel rooms and other necessities after Sandy hit.